Aaron and Evan Steed were just a couple of football-playing, California high school kids looking to make some extra cash for pizza when they decided to start a moving company back in 1997.
Not long after they went into business, they received a call from a woman called looking to move quickly to escape her abusive husband. Aaron and his brother flew into action—and refused to take her money. When a number of similar cries for help came in, they decided to reconfigure their business model.
“We took every call we got and helped these women move for free, donating the service entirely,” he said. “We also wanted to spread the word and let women know that we were the ones to call.”
After one move turned dangerous—the abuser returned in the middle of the move—it occurred to Aaron that he should call for backup, so he partnered with a women’s shelter to ensure that everyone involved stayed safe. Twenty years later, Meathead Movers are known as the folks women can call when time and money are a crucial factor.
They’re also the largest independent moving company in California.
At times, a business model that incorporated consistently donated services was difficult—there were extremely difficult financial times. However, removing that aspect of their service was out of the question.
“It would have been logical for us to give up and go out of business,” said Aaron Steed. “But knowing the importance of these donated moves was part of what motivated us to stick through the rough times.”
Now, they continue to become even more profitable: their revenue for 2015 was 11.7 million, with 225 employees and over 80 vehicles on the move—despite donating $170,146.35 of moving services to victims of domestic violence, and to other nonprofits, over the past three years alone.
Several months ago, the company began a hashtag movement, #MoveToEndDV, asking businesses and entrepreneurs to help find a way to inspire others to help these women try to rebuild their lives. The hope is that people would find ways to incorporate “giving back” into their business model, rather than just writing a check or taking a group of employees to give back on Christmas.
So far, 129 business have pledged to provide everything from free cleaning services to financial literacy lessons and even free haircuts, all in the interest of helping victims of domestic violence move into their new homes as financially independent women.
As a result, their year-over-year growth increased by 43% in the fiscal year 2015.
“There is so much potential for businesses to donate in ways that won’t cost them anything. Restaurants can donate food to homeless shelters, or CEOs can allow employees to do charitable work during downtime at work, when things are slow,” he said.
Their long-term goal: sign up 10,000 businesses from around the world. To pledge your own services, click here.
“This generation that cares more and more about companies that give back and values social responsibility more than any other generation has. Providing that outlet for them helps build moral and increases employee retention,” he said.
“There’s no doubt that giving, in the future, will include more businesses incorporating philanthropy deep into the process on all levels.”Share this article: